Several Montana voters like that Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed a Guardian reporter, according to local reports.
Gianforte threw down reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground at a campaign event Wednesday night. This came the day before a special election in Montana where Gianforte has held a solid lead in the polls over Democrat Rob Quist.
The Montana Republican was charged with misdemeanor assault by local police, but has denied Jacob’s version of the incident, saying that the reporter was aggressive and grabbed him by the wrist.
MSNBC political correspondent Garrett Haake tweeted Thursday that a Gianforte voter told him, “I think reporters have it coming.” Haake tweeted yesterday that he told a gas station clerk about the incident and she replied, “My kind of politician.”
CNN’s Kyung Lah also said that a Republican voter told her that the audio of the incident made her “cheer.”
While these voters stood by Gianforte, Montana’s largest newspaper rescinded its endorsement. “We previously supported Gianforte because he said he was ready to listen, to compromise, to take the tough questions,” The Billings Gazette editorial board wrote. “Everything he said was obliterated by his surprising actions that were recorded and witnessed Wednesday.”
Congressional Republicans meanwhile were rather lukewarm in their responses. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the congressional candidate should apologize, although he added, “If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana, who their congressman’s going to be. I’m going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative.”
Republican South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford joked that “people would be careful not to make him mad,” and Republican California Rep. Duncan Hunter said it shouldn’t have occurred, “unless the reporter deserved it.”
NEW: Source close to Gianforte campaign says it's raised $100K+ online in last 24 hours — most of it coming after reporter "body slam."
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) May 25, 2017